Spotted in the auctions: 1958 Buckler Sports 90
A relic from the world of 1950s kit cars, this Buckler Sports 90 has travelled around the world in 60 years, says Simon de Burton
The name of Derek Buckler will be familiar to many kit cars fans, not least since his eponymous specials were among the first British sports cars to be made available to the DIY builder.
Founded in 1947 and originally based in Reading, Berkshire, Buckler soon moved to larger premises in nearby Crowthorne from where 400-plus cars across 12 model ranges were produced before ill health forced the sale of the company in 1962.
Despite the marque’s ‘cottage industry’ status, Buckler exported throughout the world, with an estimated 30 cars being sent to New Zealand – which is where the one you see here started life.
Although a licensing agreement enabled the Buckler’s advanced, multi-tubular space frame to be built in the country, this example’s underpinnings were shipped direct from the UK and assembled into a completed car in the remote town of Kaitangata near the south eastern tip of New Zealand’s South Island.
Powered by a Ford 100E engine driving a Buckler close-ratio gearbox and back axle, it weighs little more than 350 kilos and was among 14 Bucklers known to have raced in New Zealand, where its exploits were recorded in an extensive history file with the car.
The original owner and builder, Kerwyn Taylor, was so keen to take to the track in his newly-finished creation that he is recorded as appearing on several southern circuits, including Teretonga and Dunedin, with the body in its raw state before eventually being painted green.
More importantly the car retains the original and fabulous aerodynamic bodywork penned by the extravagantly-named Ferris de Joux, one of New Zealand’s most highly regarded automotive designers and the creator of various Holden and Ferrari-based specials as well as the Mini GT, a glass-fibre bodied sports car based on a Mini floorpan.
In addition to its period competition history, the Buckler was raced extensively in both New Zealand and Europe after 1980, arriving in the UK around four years ago having previously been rebuilt from the ground up in NZ by Dewar Thomas, a former chassis engineer with the March F1 team.
Its 100E engine has been tweaked for optimum power and has a rare Elva aluminium cylinder head carrying twin 1.5inch SU carburettors, while the original Buckler gearbox and rear axle have been retained.
London-based owner Robert Whitehouse is selling it complete with a selection of spares, including three sets of different diameter wheels which can be swapped to alter the final gearing, so enabling the car to be adapted for a variety of different competitive events.
On top of that, this lovely relic from the golden era of small capacity, ‘run what ya brung’ racing is also road-registered and ready to go. It’s incredibly tempting…
1958 Buckler Sports 90
Offered privately by Robert Whitehouse.